atom z2 roadmap Intel pushes Medfield Atom SoCs at MWC

Besides announcing a couple of partners beyond Lenovo and Motorola that are willing to take on themselves to build smartphones using Intel's Z2460 Atom SoC, Intel also gave us a quick glimpse into the future as to what the company has planned for this market space for next year. With a handful of partners, Intel might just manage to carve itself a niche in the smartphone market after all.

Besides announcing a couple of partners beyond Lenovo and Motorola that are willing to take on themselves to build smartphones using Intel's Z2460 Atom SoC, Intel also gave us a quick glimpse into the future as to what the company has planned for this market space for next year. With a handful of partners, Intel might just manage to carve itself a niche in the smartphone market after all.

At its press conference Intel announced three new partners, Orange –a network service provider in Europe that will launch a handset in France and the UK this summer – Lava – an Indian handset maker that will launch its Xolo X900 at some point this year – and ZTE which simply announced that they will have a device at some point in the second half of this year. The Orange and Lava devices are as far as we're aware based on Intel's reference design, so no big surprises here.

atom z2 roadmap Intel pushes Medfield Atom SoCs at MWC

However, what Intel did show was a glimpse into the future, detailing what to expect this year and next. For this year we'll have the already announced Atom Z2460, although it seems like Intel will be offering faster versions with speeds of up to 2GHz, although this is presumably in turbo mode. Intel is also planning a more affordable Atom Z2000 model with clock speeds of a mere 1GHz and which will use a different HSPA+ model called the XMM 6265, compared to the XMM 6260 which is paired with the Atom Z2460. Intel is hoping to hit retail prices of sub US$150 on handsets based on the Atom Z2000.

atom z2 roadmap 2 Intel pushes Medfield Atom SoCs at MWC

By next year we'll see a process shrink to 22nm using Intel's FinFET technology – or 3D transistors if you prefer – and Intel is planning the Atom Z2580 for 2013 using this process technology. Intel is promising twice the performance over the current model, without going into any real details. The Atom Z2580 will be paired up with the XMM 7160 model which supports LTE and increased HSPA+ performance. Come 2014 Intel will be moving its Atom processor to 14nm, although the company didn't go into any details here.

We're still not sold on the idea of having an Intel chip in our phone, but we have as yet to play with one so it's too early to draw any conclusions, but it's clear that Intel has managed to drum up enough interest from its partners to start the ball rolling.